Some are genuinely enthused. Some are dismissive. And some, like me, are more curious than anything.
It's rare to see a major fight like the January 19th HBO pay-per-view bout between Roy Jones, Jr., and Felix Trinidad get such varying hype from those in and around the sport of boxing. Yahoo's Kevin Iole wonders where this Roy Jones was 10 years ago, a Roy Jones who says he's willing to go here, there, or anywhere to fight Calzaghe, Tarver, Johnson, Klitschko, Tyson, Holyfield, or anyone else whose name has come up. Do you get the feeling sportswriters ran out of names to drop at him?
The AP's Tim Dahlberg wonders why Roy is fighting at all, citing his age, notable deterioration of in-ring abilities, and the risk any boxer takes in getting in the ring at all, let alone a nearly 39-year old man whose reflexes have slowed considerably and who hasn't won a notable bout in almost half a decade.
At Boxing Scene, Brent Matteo Alderson is excited to see these two finally face off, even if they are well past their primes. He thinks that deterioration in both Jones and Trinidad makes it an even bout, and a potentially exciting clash of popular stars.
Phil Santos of Eastside Boxing sees it as a one-sided bout that Jones will undoubtedly win, either via TKO or routine unanimous decision.
ESPN's Dan Rafael has several times noted that he's looking forward to the fight for the atmosphere, energy, and sheer fun of seeing the two icons clash.
Me? I don't really know. I do know that I won't pay $49.95 for a bout between two guys who haven't won anything of worth since 2004, when Tito ended his first retirement by coming back to crush Ricardo Mayorga.
It's 2008. This fight was first discussed in 2001, and everyone was high on it. It was not set in stone, but we've been over it a million times: Were Trinidad to defeat Bernard Hopkins (the man who essentially sent him into that first retirement), a catchweight bout between the Puerto Rican superstar and the sport's pound-for-pound ruler was almost definitely going to happen. HBO wanted it, the fans wanted it, and the fighters wanted it.
It was no secret why Jones wanted it then. Like many of his fights (and I am a Jones fan), it was, on paper, another showdown where he wasn't really going to be tested. Jones' stubbornness and occasionally unmeetable demands stopped lots of fights from happening, but when he knew he'd win, he'd take it. Trinidad is a welterweight, really. He beefed up to dominate at 154, and scorched William Joppy at 160 before a true middleweight sent him packing. Another one did it when Winky Wright embarrassed Trinidad in 2005.
Jones would have been a heavy favorite as the naturally bigger man to beat Trinidad. To most, he remains so today.
But I am inclined to agree with Brent Matteo Alderson and Rafael -- the fight could be very good. We saw it in November with faded Mayorga and Vargas. Fighters past their primes, against one another, cancel out the things that could make one another less exciting or less entertaining to watch. Jones and Trinidad are definitely two fighters who aren't what they used to be. Both were once kings of the ring, and are now just legends delaying their Hall of Fame inductions by continuing on.
I hope for something that everyone enjoys, at least those in attendance at Madison Square Garden or watching on pay-per-view. If all they can really deliver, in the big picture, is an enjoyable fight, then so be it. Here's looking for two guys that go for broke, hoping to get one more big fight, if nothing else.
I could see Jones overwhelming a rusty Trinidad in short order, even with his reflexes, speed and power not what they used to be. I could see Trinidad flooring the fragile-jawed old Jones in short order, too.
But I am still almost certain, as I was when the fight was signed, that Tito has only a puncher's chance -- and that at 170 pounds, his punch won't be the one that made him famous. At middleweight, his power was still good, though hardly exceptional. He had concrete hands at 147 and even 154, but the power doesn't seem like it'll translate to 170 pounds, at least not in my view.
I think Jones will beat him without much trouble, the same as it would have been six years ago, only different.
Instead of a showdown between arguably the two best fighters in the game, it's a money-fueled exhibition between two old fighters that used to have it all.
A lot has changed since 2001-02. Can these two capture time in a bottle? Or will this wind up to be a lackluster mess that satisifies no one but the night's winner and Don King's wallet?
I'm not sure, but the risk of the latter is too much for me to order. Sorry, Roy. Sorry, Tito.